Miller: Birds can be finicky eaters

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The cool mornings almost always find me settled into my back porch chair sipping on a steaming cup of dark roast with my back yard buddies. I have found that beggars can be choosers, because my spoiled feathered friends definitely turn up their nose at their breakfast if I dare to purchase the wrong kind of birdseed. They prefer black sunflower seeds, and aren’t afraid to let me know!

Since we have had a bit of a time with supply chain issues of late, I had to purchase the less expensive kind a time or two. The birds’ totally hilarious actions let me know that they certainly weren’t shy about their preference. Now I’m careful not to rock their world by picking up the cheaper brand.

One day earlier this year, I noticed that my supply of birdseed was dwindling, and I added it to my list. I had gotten into the habit during the height of COVID-19 to stay out of crowds as much as possible, so ordering groceries and necessary supplies from Wal-Mart and picking them up became part of my weekly routine.

One of the few drawbacks from in-person shopping is the fact that when an item is out of stock, a substitute will be shopped instead. Actually, this could be positive or negative depending on how the substitute turns out, but in the case of my feathered friends they were not impressed.

How naive I was to think that my birds would be OK with a change, but I accepted the substitution on my app and went to pick my order up. After bringing in my grocery order from the car, I braved the chilly weather to fill the bird feeders.

Almost immediately, I noticed that the number of birds in the yard had taken a nosedive. A few fat squirrels still hung around munching on the seeds and spilling quite a bit on the ground, but the birds’ beautiful hues and lovely songs were missing. Occasionally, one or two would do a quick fly by before turning up their beaks and soaring away to places unknown.

It was so unusual for the birds to make such a quick exit, so it took me a while to fully realize the problem. It was written right on the new bag said that the seeds attracted a variety of songbirds. Surely the change of brand and type of seed wasn’t the problem, I thought. But day after day my feeders sat empty.

After a couple of weeks, I was able to purchase my old brand of black sunflower seeds, and I decided to do a little experiment. I poured what was left of the cheaper brand into one of my feeders filling it up to the brim. In the other feeder I poured the black sunflower seeds and waited to see what the outcome would be.

Later that afternoon I looked into the backyard and had to laugh out loud. Not only were my beautiful feathered friends back, but also they seemed to have brought their friends along!

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.